Passengers can be helpful

Passengers Can Be More Helpful Than Distracting

As a driving school instructor, while discussing driver distractions, I’ve often been asked “What’s the difference between talking on a cell phone and talking with a passenger?” My answer has always been that the person on the cell phone can’t say “Watch out for that car up ahead!” Also, unlike the person on the other end of the cell phone, the passenger can stop talking when he or she recognizes that the driver is facing a difficult driving situation. Now the scientific evidence is in proving that my answer was correct.

Researchers at the University of Illinois observed drivers while negotiating through different driving situations such as merging and encountering unpredictable drivers on a simulated course.

They observed the drivers under four different scenarios:

  • Driver alone,
  • Driver speaking to a passenger,
  • Driver speaking to someone on a hands-free mobile device,
  • Driver speaking to someone who could see the driver and observe the driving scene via hands-free videophone.

The research showed that (no surprise) driving alone was safest because it allowed the driver to operate without any distractions. However, when driving with passengers who could observe the driving environment, especially one who had driving experience of their own, they found the passengers could be quite helpful. Just as in my answer to my students, they found that the passenger could help in navigating, moderate their conversation when driving was difficult, and warn of hazards ahead.

Again, no surprises here, they found that drivers talking on a cell phone were more likely to be involved in a crash.

The big surprise to the researchers was the results of drivers talking to someone outside the car on a video relay where the other person could see both the driver and the driving scene. In those situations, the outside person acted similarly to passengers inside the car as far as picking up on the driving hazards ahead and moderating their conversation.

Read more:Travelling with a passenger makes you a SAFER driver – but only if they are aware of road conditions

Newborn in car seat

Most Newborns Put At Risk On First Ride Home

Most newborns were put at risk on their first ride home from the hospital by new parents who didn’t know how to install or use their infant seat correctly. Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University Hospital observed 267 new families as they placed their newborn baby in the infant seat for its first ride home. Using the seat manufacturer’s installation guidelines, the researchers found that most parents either installed the seat incorrectly, used incompatible devices, or failed to secure the harnesses correctly.

Before the blessed event, new parents can receive instructions on correct installation and use of a car seat by a certified car seat technician in their area by visiting the Child Car Seat Inspection Station Locator.

For more information on the study, read: Car Seat Safety: Most Parents Use Car Seats Incorrectly When Driving Newborns Home

Ticket from another state

Ask The Traffic School Instructor: Ticket From Another State

Question: If I get a ticket in another state is it reported to my home state?

Answer: In most cases, yes. Not only is it reported but your insurance company will also have access to the records.

Forty three states and the District of Columbia belong to what is known as the Driver’s License Compact. The theme of this compact is “One Driver, One License, One Record.” Most, but not all members of the compact treat the violation as if it happened in your home state. That means that points will be assessed and in the case of serious violations such as DUI or vehicular manslaughter, your license will be suspended or revoked.

As I said, most but not all states treat violations as if they happened in the home state. Some states may consider some reported traffic violations as minor and not assign points. Other states may not only treat the violation as more serious but may apply more points to your record than the reporting state would have. New York treats tickets received in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario as a New York violation. All states have agreed to suspend your license if you fail to pay the ticket or appear in court in the state that issued the ticket

Even though they don’t officially belong to the compact, states like Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin may still report traffic tickets to the home state and accept reports of tickets from other states.

From my own experience as a former driver license examiner for the State of Florida, when someone moves to Florida and wants to transfer their license, the first thing the examiner does is to check the applicant’s driving record in their old state. The states communicate with each other.

As a driving school instructor, I’ve had quite a few students in my classes who received their tickets in other states and wanted to remove the points from their Florida driving record.

Insurance companies don’t belong to the compact and it doesn’t matter to them where you got the ticket or whether your home state considers it as a serious violation or not. If there’s a violation on your driving record from any state, they can raise your rates. Your driving record is public information that anyone can access and the insurance companies use that information when setting your rates. The only way to prevent that is if your home state has a law like the one in Florida that prevents them from raising your rates if you qualify to attend traffic school.

Most expensive cities for auto insurance

Most Expensive Cities For Auto Insurance has come out with a list of the most expensive cities in the US for Auto Insurance. The top five are:

  1. Detroit
  2. New York
  3. Miami
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Atlanta

It’s not surprising to see that many of the most expensive cities for auto insurance are also on the list of cities with the  least courteous drivers. Read more:  Detroit most expensive U.S. metro area for car insurance

Google glass

Google Glass No Safer Than Smart Phones While Driving

We have written about the dangers of Google Glass before but our warning was basically just pure speculation based on years of experience in driving safety and distracted driving issues. Now the research data is in! Researchers from the University of Central Florida and the Air Force Research Laboratory conducted a study on the use of Google Glass while driving and the results aren’t at all surprising.

The researchers set up an experiment with 40 test subjects in their 20s and tested their ability to drive on a simulated driving course. The subjects were tested with both Google Glass and a smartphone. The results showed that Google Glass is no safer to use than a smartphone when it comes to avoiding a collision.

This study comes on the heels of another study released last week that shows that voice activated hands-free mobile devices such as Apple’s Siri are no safer than a hand-held cell phone while driving and, in fact, can be even more distracting.

Several states have passed laws banning the use of Google Glass while driving and more are considering it. Earlier this year a California driver successfully fought a ticket she was issued for using Google Glass while driving because there was, at that time, no law against it.

Read more: Drivers, Don’t Trade in Your Smartphone for Google Glass … Yet